Ibn Fadlan and the Land of Darkness

Ibn Fadlan and the Land of Darkness

Arab Travellers in the Far North

Translator: Paul Lunde
Introduction by: Paul Lunde
Translator: Caroline Stone
Introduction by: Caroline Stone

  • Paperback
  • ISBN 9780140455076
  • 256 Pages
  • Penguin Classics
  • Adult


A fascinating collection of medieval Arabic travel writing-in an important new translation.

Between the ninth and fourteenth centuries, Arab explorers journeyed widely and frequently into the far north, crossing territories that now include Russia, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan. Ibn Fadla-n’s chronicles of his travels are one of the most important documents from the period, and this illuminating new translation offers insight into the world of the Arab geographers and the medieval lands of the far north. Based on an expedition to the upper Volga River in 922 AD, Ibn Fadla-n and the Land of Darkness provides a rare and valuable glimpse of Viking customs, dress, table manners, religion, and sexual practices, including the only eyewitness account ever written of a Viking ship cremation.


"[An] exceptional little anthology. . . . It is a fascinating book, with a nugget of curious information on each page, adding up to a picture that turns preconceptions on their head. . . . These are not just interesting books: they go a long way towards undermining the stereotypes about Islam that have become such a toxic part of our current discourse."  —The Scotsman
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